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Short Takes

Blood's Thicker . . .

January 17, 1988| Compiled by the View staff

Between Berta Moehller and Olivia Elizabeth Wong, it's a relatively short distance but a long, long time. Wong was born at St. Joseph's Hospital in Los Angeles on the 12th day of Christmas. Moehller, currently living in Burbank, was born 95 years ago in Arkansas. In between is a bloodline that literally spans the globe.

If she were old enough to brag, Wong could boast four living grandparents, five living great-grandparents and the doughty Moehller--who hails, according to her granddaughter, Berta Sue Rayburn, from "a long line of Southern belles." Young Berta Sue, of course, is one of Wong's grandmothers, and numbers among her great-grandmothers a full-blooded Cherokee.

If you're still with us, one of Wong's great-grandfathers on her father's side was born in China and emigrated to Jamaica, where her one of her grandfathers was born. This grandfather married Frances Wong, currently of Los Angeles but whose people "are British through and through, as far back as we can count. . . ."

Whatever, happy birthday, Olivia. You've got a lifetime to sort it all out.

Remembering Forgotten Conflict Called the Korean War

They call it the "five-paragraph war" for the space it rates in the Encyclopedia Americana. By contrast, Vietnam occupies five pages; World War II, 42. The conflict in between--the one in Korea--is virtually forgotten by all but the men and women who served in it. Now they're doing something about it.

Six months ago, the City of Los Angeles deeded a part of Angels Gate Park in San Pedro for the first memorial to the Korean War dead (more than 54,000 Americans, 297,000 from the 17 Allied nations combined), a dedication attended by a number of Korean-Americans. The site "represents the last landfall seen by the Americans who never came home," says Richard Seward, retired Marine sergeant, now of Costa Mesa.

In 1988, the drive to raise funds begins in earnest, with Seward in charge of the West Coast drive. Recently, the L.A. Korean-American community pledged $1 million of the estimated $6 million it will take to erect the memorial.

Felix de Weldon, designer of the Iwo Jima monument, will create the Korean War memorial, a grouping of a dozen fighting men that includes all services and races, as befits the international nature of the conflict.

The drive has been spearheaded by a veterans association called the Chosin Few, "an international fraternity, really," says Seward--survivors of the the war's fiercest battle (around the Chosin Reservoir) for which more Medals of Honor were awarded than any other U.S. battle.

"It (the fund drive) is a grass-roots movement," Seward says. "We're not looking for government funds; we want to see it in our lifetime."

Couple Finds Happy Ending

Having a baby can be a scary prospect under any circumstances. But for Angela Thompson, giving birth meant nothing less than a descent into insanity.

Thompson, 32, suffers from a rare and little-recognized psychiatric malady called postpartum psychosis, a temporary condition that can occur in new mothers due to hormonal changes. Several months after the birth of her first child in 1980, Thompson became delusional, shouting hymns and switching on all the lights in her Sacramento-area house in an effort to exile the evil forces she believed were stalking her.

When her second child was born near the end of 1982, Thompson was again afflicted. Because many health-care workers are unfamiliar with postpartum psychosis, Thompson was not diagnosed. There was no opportunity for her to temper the effects of the disease.

This time Thompson's plunge into psychosis resulted in tragedy. Believing that her 9-month-old son Michael was the devil, she drowned the baby in the bathtub while her husband was at work.

When interviewed for a View story last February, Angela and Jeff Thompson were apprehensive because Angela was again pregnant.

But this pregnancy had a happier outcome--baby Thomas was born on May 14. And it has led them to believe that postpartum psychosis can be controlled if it is diagnosed and properly treated with hormones and anti-psychotic drugs administered both before and after the delivery.

Although Thompson did endure some "thinking problems" (as she calls her delusional symptoms), this time around she and her husband were able to spot what was going on and get help.

It's important for mothers who have had an episode of postpartum psychosis in the past to know that they can have another child if they so desire, Thompson said.

"I think it takes a lot out of you to do it," she said in a telephone interview from her home. "But I think it's worth it.

"I'm sitting here looking at a 7-month-old healthy baby boy."

A Teen Message

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